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Renovation & Design

Overwhelm unpleasant odours with ones that fade

Greg Southam / Edmonton Journal files

It might take a couple weeks to rid your hope chest of an unwanted smell.

Question: I own a cedar-lined hope chest that I purchased several years ago (second-hand), privately, from a business contact. It smells like mothballs inside, probably due to the previous owner storing something inside, with mothballs. How might I try to get rid of the scent? I would like to pass it on to my granddaughter. — Julie

Answer: The key is to overpower the mothball smell with another smell that will eventually disappear on its own. Begin by wiping the inside and outside of the trunk with orange furniture oil (found at dollar stores).

Next, line the trunk with newspaper. Find a tray and place it on the newspaper, then sprinkle the tray with either a generous amount of kitty litter, cotton balls soaked with tea tree oil or even better, dry coffee grounds. Leave for at least two weeks.

If the smell remains, place an open bowl of household ammonia in the trunk. Close the lid and make sure the trunk is stored far away from family members (just in case it smells). Remove ammonia after a few days.

 

Question: I was wondering if you knew how to prevent further cracking (from dryness, I assume) on my beautiful wooden dining-room table? I polish it every week and every two weeks I leave oil all over it, hoping it will stop the cracking.

We aren’t able to put a humidifier in our home, but do you have any other suggestions on how to save this table from destructive dryness? — Kathleen

Answer: A wide array of products — including oils, waxes and sprays — is available for furniture care. However, contrary to popular belief, wood does not need to be "fed."

The best way to care for furniture is simply to maintain a stable environment. No amount of oil or other materials will keep wood from drying out if the humidity level is too low.

A good-quality paste wax designed for furniture can be used to add a protective layer to the wood finish and give it a soft shine. Paste wax protects the finish without penetrating the wood and prevents dust from binding with the surface. Choose a wax that matches the colour of the wood (for instance, a lighter wax for maple and a darker one for walnut).

If the wood finish is cracked or rubbed away, skip the paste. Do this only once a year and apply the wax sparingly. Do not use spray polishes or lemon oils as they can leave the surface tacky, which attracts dust.

Contrary to what the makers of spray-on furniture polishes claim, you don’t need fancy chemicals to clean and protect wood furniture, even if they are your prized possessions.

In fact, those products can do more harm than good. According to one expert at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., "some sprays have additives that will never come off. They cross-link chemically over time and become insoluble. A lot never completely dry and they attract dirt, darkening the finish, which can decrease the value."

 

Hints and tips

Question: I own a cedar-lined hope chest that I purchased several years ago (second-hand), privately, from a business contact. It smells like mothballs inside, probably due to the previous owner storing something inside, with mothballs. How might I try to get rid of the scent? I would like to pass it on to my granddaughter.

— Julie

 

Answer: The key is to overpower the mothball smell with another smell that will eventually disappear on its own. Begin by wiping the inside and outside of the trunk with orange furniture oil (found at dollar stores). Next, line the trunk with newspaper. Find a tray and place it on the newspaper, then sprinkle the tray with either a generous amount of kitty litter, cotton balls soaked with tea tree oil or even better, dry coffee grounds. Leave for at least two weeks. If the smell remains, place an open bowl of household ammonia in the trunk. Close the lid and make sure the trunk is stored far away from family members (just in case it smells). Remove ammonia after a few days.

 

Question: I was wondering if you knew how to prevent further cracking (from dryness, I assume) on my beautiful wooden dining-room table? I polish it every week and every two weeks I leave oil all over it, hoping it will stop the cracking. We aren’t able to put a humidifier in our home, but do you have any other suggestions on how to save this table from destructive dryness?

— Kathleen

Answer: A wide array of products — including oils, waxes and sprays — is available for furniture care. However, contrary to popular belief, wood does not need to be "fed." The best way to care for furniture is simply to maintain a stable environment. No amount of oil or other materials will keep wood from drying out if the humidity level is too low. A good-quality paste wax designed for furniture can be used to add a protective layer to the wood finish and give it a soft shine. Paste wax protects the finish without penetrating the wood and prevents dust from binding with the surface. Choose a wax that matches the colour of the wood (for instance, a lighter wax for maple and a darker one for walnut). If the wood finish is cracked or rubbed away, skip the paste. Do this only once a year and apply the wax sparingly. Do not use spray polishes or lemon oils as they can leave the surface tacky, which attracts dust.

Contrary to what the makers of spray-on furniture polishes claim, you don’t need fancy chemicals to clean and protect wood furniture, even if they are your prized possessions. In fact, those products can do more harm than good. According to one expert at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., "some sprays have additives that will never come off. They cross-link chemically over time and become insoluble. A lot never completely dry and they attract dirt, darkening the finish, which can decrease the value."

Hints and tips

 

After recovering from a cold/flu, throw out your toothbrush. If purchasing a new toothbrush is not an option: soak the toothbrush for several hours in anti-bacterial mouthwash or a half-cup of three per cent hydrogen peroxide and one teaspoon of baking soda.

— Heather

 

My friends give me their tangled necklaces because they can’t be bothered to untangle them. I simply rub them with baby oil, making it much easier to remove tangles.

— Lynda

 

I ended up getting nail polish off cabinet cupboards with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The pad took it off like a charm and didn’t damage the cabinets at all.

— Martinis

 

Remove pet hair from furniture using a window squeegee.

— Trevor

 

I recently read an article about rabbits in the yard eating things we do not want them to eat. I found an excellent, inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy solution. Grate a bar of Irish Spring soap just like cheese and sprinkle it around problem areas (or around perimeter of property) to keep rabbits away.

— Mel

 

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca. Ask a question or share a tip at reena.ca.

 My friends give me their tangled necklaces because they can’t be bothered to untangle them. I simply rub them with baby oil, making it much easier to remove tangles. — Lynda

I ended up getting nail polish off cabinet cupboards with Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. The pad took it off like a charm and didn’t damage the cabinets at all. — Martinis

Remove pet hair from furniture using a window squeegee. — Trevor

I recently read an article about rabbits in the yard eating things we do not want them to eat. I found an excellent, inexpensive, environmentally friendly and easy solution. Grate a bar of Irish Spring soap just like cheese and sprinkle it around problem areas (or around perimeter of property) to keep rabbits away. — Mel

 

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: reena.ca. Ask a question or share a tip at reena.ca.

 

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